A Travellerspoint blog

My First Overnight Train

Or, maybe not...

overcast 8 °C

I returned from Inverness (The smallest airport I have ever seen!) on Wednesday around 630. I ended up going to stay at one of my friend's houses for the night in Den Haag before departing on Thursday for Warsaw, Poland. I was set to leave at 6 pm and arrive the next day at 10:30. I got to the train station at 5:30 and waited for my train to get there. I hoped on the train to Utrecht, which would connect me to a train to Poland. But, a little over half way to Utrecht the train stopped abruptly. The conductor came on the speakers saying there was a fire ahead and the police needed to clear us before we went any further. So, we sat and waited. And waited. Then we were told we needed to turn around and go back to Den Haag. Fantastic.
So upon returning to Den Haag I got to stand in line at the international train desk to try to reroute. The only way I could make it to Poland was by leaving the next morning at 530 am.... 530 am. oi.
So I hoped on the next tram to my friends house and waited for him to get home from work. While sitting on the bench outside of his house it started sprinkling. Then pouring. Then hailing. So what to do? Find a bar, of course! I seeked shelter in the Buijs Cafe down the street to stay dry and drown my sorrows. Sounds like an oxymoron right? Well, it worked out pretty well. I got to shat to a delicious bartender, then hangout out with my heidi and adam before getting some grub and turning in for the night.
But, I was so paranoid I wouldn't wake up to my phone alarm that I didn't really sleep. Finally I got up and caught a cab to head to central station after just debating on walking there. But boy was I glad I took that taxi! It started hailing again!
So I caught my first train on time and switched to a different train in Amersfoort, about an hour train ride. Then hopped on the train to Berlin which was 5 hours. Then switched to a different station in Berlin which was twenty. Then waited an hour and a hal for the train to Warsaw. Then sat on that train for 7. Then waited for a bus ride that was 15 minutes. Then walked 15 minutes. So, now it is 1030 pm and I have only been here 15 minutes. Lets count that. 17 hours. Holy cow.
So since my schedule was messed up I need to try and see as much of Warsaw in less than a day. Tomorrow night I leave for Bratislava at 8pm. So I will be a busy bee tomorrow!
Wish me luck!

Posted by Michele530 13:14 Archived in Poland Comments (0)

Inverness, Scotland

Trip 1 Days 3 & 4

storm

I am finishing up my first week of travelling already. Time flies!

After leaving Edinburgh I took a train up to Inverness. This train ride wasn't too bad, only 4 hours. Upon arriving I quickly found my Hostel, which happened to be right next to another castle!

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View from my room

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Inverness Castle

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Back of Inverness Castle

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Inverness Castle at night

After I dropped off my things at the hostel I wandered into the city center to check out some tours to do in the area. While in the tourist information center I met a fellow traveller who was from Australia. After chatting for a bit we decided to do the Crime and Punishment Tour through the city that night and a Highland Tour the next day.

The Crime and Punishment Tour was 10 pounds and was very similar to the Ghost Tour I went to in Edinburgh.

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Here is the cemetary where we heard a few creepy stories.

The tour was only 50 minutes and wasn't as creepy and thorough as the one in Edinburgh, but it was still a good time.

The next morning I got up bright and early to head to the bus stop to get picked up for the tour of the highlands.

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We drove along the coast for several hours. Stopping occasionally for some photo ops and to see some of the local sights.

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A highland "coo"

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It has been a super windy day!

After we reached the very top of Scotland at John O' Groats, we turned around and headed home.

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We even stopped to feed some horses on the way back.

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We learned that Scotland has over 90 mini "stone henges" fixtures. Some are very small, while others take up huge areas. The one we saw was in the shape of a horseshoe with over 20 stones that were 2 meters high.

All in all it has been a great day, eventhough the wind kicked me aroudn for most of it.

Tomorrow I head back to Den Haag for a day, then I hop onto a train Poland which will take 16 hours!

Next stop: Warsaw, Poland

Posted by Michele530 13:09 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

Edinburgh, Scotland

Trip 1 Days 1&2

rain 12 °C

I made it to Scotland! The flight was a simple hour and 20 minutes. I got to the airport on time, I hung out with one of my friends who happened to be flying out the same time to go home to New Zealand, I got coffee, made it to the gate on time. It was a weird feeling of actually starting a trip out right.

After landing I hopped on a bus that dropped people off at Waverly Bridge which happened to be down the street from my hostel, so I threw on my backpack and walked to the Grassmarket area nd found my hostel. It was still too early to check in so I dropped off my bag and headed out to search the city. It is a heck of a lot smaller than I thought it would be, but it was still amazing. The city is almost layered. There is one level that has the grassmarket area and cowgate, then you can walk up a hill to the royal mile, which has tons of bridges going over the grassmarket and cowgate areas- creating tons of little tunnels and creepy corners. Then over that seems to be another level. Everything is so interconnected!

The history here is unbelievable as well. And they are proud of it! I spent my first few hours in edinburgh at the "Last Drop" which is apparently where the last person in Scotland was hung. They also have their own ghost tours through the building that you can get for free if you are a customer there. They also have the oldest hostel, the oldest bridge, whole underground city underneath the royal mile and the castle.

Speaking of castle, the view from my Hostel, Art Roch, is of the Edinburgh Castle.

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The castle has been scientifically proven to be at least 3,000 years old. However, they have found wood fragments that they believed were part of a castle that are even older that the current stone castle.

After wandering and drinking Scottish beer for most of the first day, I hit the hay stack. Then the next day I got up bright and early to start the day. I first headed down to the main floor and got a gigantic coffee and curled up on a coach with my laptop and began typing away. Then I suited up and faced the rainy day.

I met a fellow American traveler who was staying in the same room and we decided to go on the free walking tour around Edinburgh. I definitely didn't expect what we got. There were about 30 people on the tour with one tour guide. And he was larger than life. He acted out stories, told crazy jokes, and was just hilarious to watch bouncy around. And he was a self professed pirate. It was glorious. He took us to all of the major Edinburgh sites, as well as some less known ones.

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St. Giles Cathedral (which we learned is not really a cathedral because a bishop doesn't "sit" in it. It is actually a church of Scotland that has no Catholic ties)

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Parliament building which is actually eleven floors high, even though you can only see five

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Front of St. Giles

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Known as the "dirtiest place in Scotland" was once a tollhouse where taxes were paid. People would spit on the door if they agreed with the authorities in Edinburgh. After the building came down people still would spit in the same spot. There were definitely some fresh spitbombs there today from angry Scots.

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This is one of the oldest buildings in Edinburg. It was built in the mid-1500's after the English King burned down most of the city when the Scots wouldn't sign a contract to force Mary Queen of Scots to marry an Englishman at the age of 2.

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Window at the Elephant Cafe where J.K. rowlings wrote the first two Harry Potter Books.

After we stopped by the Elephant bar we walked to the cemetary that you could see out of the window she sat in. A private school that sites on the grounds was what she based Hogwarts after. Also, several of the names from the books were on some of the graves.

Next we walked down to the Princes Gardens, which used to be a huge bason of human waste in the medieval era. Now it is one of the lushest Gardens in the world.

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A working clock made of plants in the Princes Gardens

We took a short rest here at the Gardens to view the castle from the best angle in Edinburgh and to listen to a story from the guide about the Rock of Destiny that England stole from the Scots in the 1200's and finally returned in 1996 by Tony Blair in exchange for their votes.

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Backside view of the castle from the Gardens.

Afterwards, some of us from the group wandered with the tour guide to 1780 Pub for lunch and a pint.

Now, I'm sitting in my hostel re-energizing on another giant coffee, preparing for another tour tonight-- A ghost tour! So, at 9:30 tonight I am stepping out with a million layers of clothes, hoping to stay dry and warm, to hear some crazy ghost stories from the 3,000 year old history of Edinburgh. And it will be with the same tour guide. I can't wait.

Then tomorrow I am off to my next spot!

Next stop: Inverness, Scotland.

Transport: Train from Edinburgh to Inverness. Approxiamtely 3. 5 hours.

Posted by Michele530 09:28 Archived in Scotland Tagged scotland edinburgh backpacking Comments (0)

My great adventure!

Two months of wandering

rain 15 °C

So, it's finally here! My two months of wandering- the trip of a lifetime!

Here's the line up:

Scotland- Edinburgh and Inverness
Poland- Warsaw
Slovakia- Bratislava
Czech Republic- Prague
Austria- Vienna
Hungary- Budapest
Italy- Rome, Naples, Pompeii, Venice
Croatia- Dubrovnik
Spain- Barcelona
France- Avignon, Aix-en-Provence, Nice, Cannes
Monaco- Monte Carlo
Greece- Athens, Santorini, Mykonos, Crete
Turkey- Bodrum, Istanbul
Luxembourg- Luxembourg City
Belgium- Brussels

So if anyone wants to send a comment and give me some direction as to what I absolutely need to do in these places, then dont hesitate!

Posted by Michele530 00:55 Archived in Scotland Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Train Travels

With my family!

sunny 32 °C

Ok. So this post is hard for me because I used to writing about all the stupid things I did. I'm used to getting lost, losing things, and just generally wondering around aimlessly until I see something shiny and need to go find out what it is.

But, this trip I had everything planned. Why? Because my mom(Susie Q or momsie), aunt (Susie), and family friend (Lori) came to visit me!

The first was actually the biggest hassle out of all the days. There plane was supposed to land at ten. I finally saw them come through customs after noon. Flight delays sucks! So I had WAY too much coffee by the time I finally saw them... and I may have shed a tear or two because I was excited to see them. Then we hopped on the train and headed to Den Haag.

I had arranged with my friends to have a bbq that day so that they could meet everyone. We made tons of food, drank lots of beer, and then made everyone leave because the three travelers started falling asleep.

The next day we got up bright and early to catch our train to Paris. Our first stop after we dropped off our bags at the hotel was breakfast. We sat right beside the Bastille monument.

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Then we walked down to the Notre Dame and the center of Paris

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Outside the Notre Dame

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The Center of Paris

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Jesus

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There is somethinng that I love about the candles in Cathedrals.

The windows of the Notre Dame were amazing!
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After we finished wondering around the Notre Dame we decided we should do a boat and bus tour so we could see as many sites as possible. We started on the river and headed up to the Louvre. Which was closed. The one day in the entire month that it was closed and of course that was the day we went.

Here we are waiting for the boat:

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Here's us being the typical American tourists on the boat:
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I'm taking a picture of Susie, who's taking a picture of Lori, who is taking a picture of Susie.

Anyways. We still went to the Louvre to see the giant glass pyramid. We stayed here for a bit because it was a milliuon degrees out and they had a fountain that you could soak your feet in to cool down.

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Then we hopped on the bus to take us to the Arc Du Triumphe
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We grabbed Dinner here and booked a show for the evening, then went to the Eiffel Tower. I opted to not climb the tower because I'm petrified of heights, but the rest of the gals made the trek up.

Here's us at Dinner

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After we finished the Eiffel Tower we headed back toward the Arc for a Burlesque show. Which was actually really good.

The next morning we got up super early to go to Switzerland! The train ride wasn't super exciting until we got into Switzerland. Once we got into the country it was beautiful. I think the Swiss countryside wins as one of the most beautiful places I've been.

We went into the harbor and took a boat ride around Lake Zurich. Which was peaceful, but wasn't a guided tour, so we were basically staring at water for two hours.

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Later on we took a tour into the Zurich falls which take you a few hours away to a mini version of the Niagra Falls, then brings you back to Zurich through a brief drive in Germany.
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We took a boat out to a tiny island in the middle of the falls and climbed a million stairs. The view was amazing!

Here I am hanging out in front of the falls:
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The next day we took a train from Zurich to Milan. Again, the train ride was gorgeous!
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We arrived in Milan in the late afternoon, so we went to dinner next door to our hotel. Our waiter was the most adorable thing ever. And he kept making fun of me, so I was instantly in love with him.

The next day we wondered around Milan. I was pleasantly surprised when I found that Milan looked exactly as I had pictured Italy.

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We walked to where the Last Supper is and started to look around the cathedral, but we got kicked out... because some of the girls were wearing shorts and short sleeved. Goodness.
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So we moved on...

We walked to a medieval castle where these Jamaican guys talked my mom and susie into paying them money to give them a "good luck" string around their wrist. They fell for it at least twice.
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Then we went to the Duomo, the whole reason I wanted to go to Milan.
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But, I was the only one allowed to go in because I was the only one with sleeves and pants on.
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If you can't read this, it says:Jesus on the Web. Yah know, just in case you were worried he wasn't
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Then, before we headed in for the night we made sure we had some goodies and a nice shop.

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We even basked in the extreme heat and had a coffee:
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The next morning we flew back to Amsterdam.

Over the next few days I showed the gals around Amsterdam, Den Haag, Delft, and Haarlem. My friend HEidi and I introduced them to Buses and Delicious Frites (Fries).

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It was a relatively accident free trip. We got to see some of the most amazing European cities and we fit it into a week!

Newt Trip: The English Countryside!

Posted by Michele530 05:16 Archived in Netherlands Tagged paris zurich milan Comments (0)

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